I was sitting in the office of a senior executive of a major bank a couple years ago when he said "It really bugs me that despite all the work I put into innovation, a consumer can essentially walk across the street and get the same service I offer from a different bank."
I sympathized with him. The fact is that banking is a highly regulated industry, and historically it has been difficult for banks to establish a sense of differentiation in the minds of consumers. Like so many things, however, that’s changing. Banks increasingly have the opportunity to create a level of competitive differentiation that would have been hard to establish a few years ago, and mobile imaging is playing a key role.
As we just announced, US Bank is working with Mitek to bring mobile photo bill pay service to its customers. By offering this service, US Bank raises the bar in an industry where mobile applications are a leading reason why consumers maintain, or even switch, their banking relationship. Most leading banks have already implemented Mobile Deposit®, and regardless of the size of the bank, both the statistical and anecdotal data tell the same story: consumers love using their camera-equipped smartphones and tablets to do their banking. As the number of institutions who have rolled out Mitek's Mobile Deposit grows the question becomes: what's next?
Mobile photo bill payment is the next iteration of the mobile imaging wave. It is a powerful solution for so many reasons. It’s fun to use. It appeals to attractive demographics such as young, affluent consumers. It’s a capability that is fit-for-purpose: while one consumer can use it to easily enroll a new biller into her online bill pay service, the next consumer can use the service to pay his bills directly – no PC required. In fact, many banks have been "stuck" for a long time with roughly the same percentage of online bill payment customers, and it has been difficult to deliver something new and fun in that market. Until now.
Industry analysts Forrester, Javelin and CEB TowerGroup see the same future we do. In fact, Forrester’s 2012 US Mobile Banking Functionality Rankings report stated, “No mobile feature has made as big an impact as quickly as mobile remote deposit capture (RDC). Virtually every bank in the country is currently considering or building mobile RDC functionality. Moreover, mobile RDC has given rise to other advanced features. One example is the ability to enroll in eBills by taking a picture of a paper bill — not something currently rolled out among the national banks but an idea that is gaining momentum. We believe mobile RDC will soon be table stakes for direct providers and large, national banks.”
Of course, when that mass adoption happens and banks are all offering new mobile banking services, the level of differentiation the solution provides will have receded somewhat. But that won't bother today's leaders like US Bank, who will be working with Mitek to continuously evolve their mobile strategies to create new, innovative mobile services for tomorrow.
Who knew paying a bill could be so much fun?